Sunday, May 17, 2015

Free weekend

I'm not working this weekend. I could. There's more to do. The report that won't die still needs editing. I'm at the hard part now where I have to add new, meaningful, discussion sections. I hit a wall at that point. Asked for help. And the help came in the form of, "you need to say more here about this and what it means." Gee, thanks. I had a call about it on Friday with my "helpers" and one point I found myself laughing and realized I could've easily started crying. I'm not sure I've ever been quite there before. Enough. Enough already with this stupid report and this stupid job that requires me to care about things I never will. This weekend, no work, just nothing. I was supposed to go on a long bike ride but instead, I slept in and read for escape. I started knitting the sweater-vest for my youngest Israeli niece. I had to rip out a lot I'd done and start over. I had to make calculations for the size. That's "work" but it's fun and tangible.

On Friday, I had a funny experience. I was getting a sandwich and waiting with a lot of other people. I was standing next to a pretty cute guy. Then Pele walked in--we work right across the street from each other, after all. We chatted a bit and then she ordered. While she was in line for that, I struck up a conversation with the guy--"that's my best friend and we work so close but we can never find a time for lunch--and then here she is!" (In fact, just the day before Pele had emailed me about getting together.) He shared some similar experiences. I noticed he was wearing a wedding ring. Pele finshed ordering and I noticed that she waited before coming back over to talk to me. I nodded her back in. I mouthed "married." We talked and when he left she said, "I was going to let you talk to that really cute guy!" This brought me back to our party days and...one party in particular, where I waved her away when I was talking to a cute guy...who I didn't know was marriend. Those were the days? Wing woman in action.

Anyway, I'm having a coffee in my new favorite coffee shop. Going to read a bit and then meet JenA who is coming down from Baltimore for a local bike swap. Should be a good day.

View from the back of the coffee shop
A scarf for a niece. Finshed it a while ago, just got around to blocking.

Grateful for: friends who have my back.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

The plan

I had a plan...I always have a plan. Even when I try not to, I have a plan. If I make a plan, it's very hard for me to break it, even if it's only with myself.

Today, I was supposed to do one of two bike adventures. I'm doing neither because I'm trying to "cure" my chronic shoulder pain. I've had the problem for a long time and my PT thinks biking makes it's worst. Unfortunately, she seems to be right. So, instead, it's just a short ride to a coffee shop--no work, just write for this blog--and then to meet a friend who is giving me a free bike rack. It's still all bikes somehow....

Part of the plan may include going to the movies this afternoon. [Done--I actually went to an 11:00am show. Not bad.]

And how are things in general? Not bad. My mood has improved but not for any particular reason. I had the job interview a bit over a week ago. It went ok but I can understand if they don't make me an offer. They have a particular kind of person in mind for that job and I'm not her. But, I could be a real asset to their organization and I think I might love working there. A mission driven place not constrained by politics? That would be great. Regardless, it's time to start thinking about my plan to leave my current job. It's not sustainable and I don't feel good about working there. They are good to me. They're not blaming me for the crisis mode of my project...but nevertheless, we're in crisis. This will be the third weekend in a row I need to spend some time working. It's all writing and editing and it's starting to wear me out. I don't know what my next steps are but when I see good job opportunities, I'm going to start applying. That's the plan.

Today, I spent 30 minutes working before the movie. I've spent another 30 post movie. That may be all I have in me for today. I figure I'll put in another hour tomorrow. Is this the best approach? I have no idea. I feel like I'm pecking away rather than fully attacking but with so much thinking to do, I seem to loose steam really quickly. If I don't give myself some time to recharge this weekend, I'll never finish. Today, I did old fashioned marking up on paper. Tomorrow, maybe I'll transfer the edits to the electronic copy of the document. Excitement, I know.

Grateful for: a better mood.

P.S. Here's a pic I took my my walk home on Friday. My neighborhood is getting shiny but the alleys still show their unvarnished selves.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Better

I am feeling a little better today. Not sure why I got so gloomy. I would really like it if things would "work out." But what does that mean? A good job? A different job? Materially, I'm doing fantastically well--I am being greedy to want a relationship too? What's sort of funny, though, is that a big career (mine is small) was never one of my goals. What were my goals? I don't really know. I've never had a long range plan. I picked a goal, and worked towards it. I finished college.  I went to Europe on my own.  I was a VISTA. I finished grad school. I got a government job.  I stayed on the rowing team for a long time...longer than was reasonable. I went to Machu Picchu. I went to live in Paris for 7 months.

I've done a lot of things. I chose something, and I did it. Years ago, I remember telling a fellow PhD student that if our goal had been to get married, we'd be married. I pointed out that we had (probably) accomplished most everything we'd ever tried to do. PhD students are almost by definition overachievers.  I'm pretty sure she is married now, though we didn't stay in touch.  I think...I've thought for a long time that my goal was to get married (or have a long term relationship), but maybe it's not? Because, if that were really my goal, why would it be so hard to achieve?  Ok, I know why--and it's got something to do with my unwillingness to instrumentalize relationships. (And not being willing to marry someone just to be married--that has probably been possible, but not something I can do.) And I'm crazy picky on one hand, but too tolerant on the other. I just roll along in these situations that I find interesting but ultimately unsatisfying. But what the heck do I know what about what would make me happy?

People just assume that I'm living the life I want. That I prefer to be single and I don't want kids. Not true, not even a little bit. I do try to make this a life that I like because it's the only one I have.

Huh. That's not less gloomy at all! Well, wish me luck on the interview. Maybe I will manage to achieve my goal of earning less money.

Grateful for: a little less gloom.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Discouraged

Yep, that's me. Super discouraged. This work stuff has really got me down. I feel like I'm swimming against the tide. Or I'm a fish out of water. Or something uncomfortable and out of place.

Talked to Mom the other day and she said, "you can't make work the focus of your life." Oy. Yes, I know Mom. I know. I am trying so hard to find other things to focus on. I don't want to think about work. I don't like work. I would be so much happier taking long walks, riding my bike, reading trashy novels, binge watching whatever, knitting, playing with the cat, and finding miscellaneous social events to attend. Oh, and dating. The thing is, I do some of those things, as much as I have the energy for, every week. I probably don't play with the cat enough.

But I can't tell Mom about the dating because it's already discouraging enough. And she's sure to say something biting and incisive that will dispel even the tiniest potential for fun. She's always right but that's not always helpful.  She seems to thing I should have a boyfriend. I can't say I disagree, but I can't figure out how to make that happen. I can barely figure out how to have friends. I know part of that is me--I don't like people. I like certain people and the people I like, I like very much and I'm incredibly loyal to them, but I don't make a lot of close friends (not unusual), but the friends I have now seem particularly unavailable and I'm really feeling the absence of that. Pele is just too busy and distance. Others are all booked up and either not including me or engaging in things that just aren't that much fun for me.

I should stop being so gloomy because I have taken active steps to meet new people. I am semi-active on a FB group centered around a favorite podcast of mine. I've organized a local get together for the group--actually it's the second time I've done this. The first time was fun, but it was quite a while ago. This time, new people are coming, and it should be even bigger (though that's not necessarily a good thing). If I have the energy, maybe I'll keep organizing these events.  I also have another new friend who I met through a biking activity who I'm going to see a movie with. On her FB wall she asked who wanted to see a particular scary movie. I don't know her well--we've only met two or three times and just chatted a little--but I put myself out there and said I was game. Then she invited me over to watch the movie with her! So, fun, right?

All I can do is keep trying but I have to say, I'm not very happy at the moment. Went to a meeting today and one of my (indirect) managers asked me what I needed. I said, someone else to manage my project. That's not good, but I don't have much confidence that I can salvage the mess that I've been brought here to fix. It all feels like too much.  Ok, ok, how do I cheer up? I'm tired of being so down in the dumps. It happens much to often and I'm too much alone with no one to actually tell. See, there I go again? What do I have that I need? I have resources and a comfortable life, materially. Certainly things don't really get me down--like the car window break-in, that didn't really get to me. What I do care about is doing a good job and having friendships. So even if I'm not the happiest right now, at least I have decent priorities. And even if Mom doesn't believe me, I don't expect fulfillment from work, but it's just the most interactive part of my life, even if I wish that weren't the case.

Grateful for: having my priorities straight.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Working

This weekend, I have to work. It's ok. Well, it's not ok. The whole team was working so damn slowly, that the only way for me to meet a Monday deadline is to work over the weekend. Then again, that's why we set Monday or mid-week deadlines--to use the weekend if necessary. Never have a Friday deadline--your client isn't going to start reading anything on Friday unless you turn it in first thing, and maybe not then.

So, this weekend, I got up early, though not as early as I intended, and headed over to my favorite new coffee shop. I sat there for about two hours, interspersing my editing with facebook browsing and random internet reading.  I can never just do one thing. I switch back and forth to reduce the drudgery of what is an extreme editing task. Did I mention that most of my job seems to be editing? Well, managing--moving the pieces around--and then editing other people's work. I guess that's ok. I'm pretty good at it. Who thought that the major qualification I'd bring to bear on my career as a social scientist is my English degree? I don't think being an English major taught me to write--I was an English major because I was a good writer. Now my creative writing classes probably turned me into a better writer. Not a better creative writer (though maybe that too) but better at the technical aspects of writing--the grammar, syntax, construction, etc. The level of writing of my team is...poor. A lot of it is poor because I'm seeing first drafts and not everyone is a good first draft writer. And when we work on these deadlines, there's not time for people to go back and edit.  That's where I come in...but...but...it can be really challenging to fix someone else's poor construction.  Half the time, you're guessing at what they meant and the wrong edit can completely change the meaning of something. So, ideally, the original authors should have the final review, to confirm that your edits didn't alter the substance. We just hardly ever have time for it, but I do it whenever possible. I know our subcontractor would like to hand us their work and never have me touch it and never hear from me again but their work is so crummy that I have to make a ton of edits every single time. And do they allow time for a final review? Never.  Damn. I so want off this terrible project. Hold it together, lady! Yes, I can do this. It's not like I have anything better to do this weekend...sigh.

Grateful for: excellent writing skills.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Surprise

Is it really a surprise that I heard from Austin again? On Tuesday, he texted me a bunch of links to albums posted on youtube. I'd said that I didn't listen to much new music anymore. I liked what he sent. We chatted a little, I told him about my car break-in and my job interview. Kind of an eventful day. Random inappropriate dude gets in touch, someone smashes in my car window, and I get a call for a job interview.

I am pretty stressed out at work and somehow that means that I'm not getting much done. I'm arguing with my sub-contractor about petty nothings. I'm waiting for other people to finish things so I can spend the weekend working on them. I guess that's why I'm not working too hard this week--because this is going to be a 7-day week. Sigh.

Grateful for: attention.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Dreaming

I had a dream last night that I was at a job interview. I was asked why I left my last job and I said it was because of my horrible supervisor.

Why am I having this dream? Because I have a job interview next week. It's at a small non-profit organization. It's a much better place for me, but it's stirring up a lot of feelings. Guilt over the prospect of leaving my current employer in the lurch. I don't like my job, not really, but they've been very good to me, given me a great opportunity, and I'm learning a lot. If I leave them now, there's no going back--the betrayal would be too big. Wouldn't it?

And then I wonder, have I really ever liked any job? I did like driving the van in college. Working at the movie theater was ok. The work itself was horrible drudgery, but the people were great and I had a lot of fun there--plus free movies. Being a TA was boring and stressful. Being an RA was pretty fun. My long government career was horribly boring for most of my tenure, but when it started to get interesting, the management disasters began. And even if the management were better, and even though the projects were very interesting, the actual work that I had to do was pretty dull.  I have no confidence that the new job would be more interesting. They should hire me of course--I have all the qualifications. The only risk is that I'm overqualified (I really am--how did that happen?). But it's more the type of job that fits with how I see myself. With the role I want to have in this world. A small, non-profit, focused on social justice issues. That's what I care about, even if the work itself turns out to be dull.  Still, I wonder, is there such a thing as a job that I would actually enjoy?

Also, yesterday, someone broke one of the passenger door windows on my car. They only thing they took was a big box full of clothing and miscellaneous items that were destined for Goodwill. Maybe I should've left the car unlocked, because now I get to pay a few hundred bucks to repair the window. Oh well. At least my current job makes the money a non-issue.

Grateful for: new opportunities.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Flowers

The cherry blossoms are gone but everything else is fully in bloom. I like to represent the underrepresented floral displays in DC. 


Friday, April 17, 2015

Last night

I don't know if this is good news or not, but I heard from the bad news guy yesterday. It was an apology and a goodbye. That's fine. I already knew I was done with him and I was sort of glad that he bothered to say something. One assumes (foolishly?) that he took so long to get in touch because he was either trying to decide what he wanted to say to me, what he wanted to happen, and whether he was going to bother to respond to me at all. So, while he is still an ass, he at least gave me some resolution.  Moving on.

I received the goodbye text while I was out having a drink with a different guy, Austin. I met Austin online a while ago and we had a fun time texting but nothing ever came of it. I was scrolling through my messages, a symptom of my frustration, and I came across Austin's last message. On a whim, I contacted him--and he responded. We chatted and decided to go for a drink. Before we met, he told me he'd reunited with his girlfriend, so I had my eyes open. I felt fine with that--I need friends to go hang out with and grab drinks. Pele is way too busy. Liz is way too scheduled. Nancy was never free for that. C-money can do the movie thing every few weeks but we never just hang out spontaneously.  I told Austin that he could be my wing man and he was cool with that.

Our meeting went well. We'd gotten along very well virtually and we had an easy rapport in person right from the start. Definitely helped that there was no dating pressure due to it not being a (romantic) date! When we'd talked before he told me he knew a guy who used to work where I used to work. Turns out, I know the guy too! That was pretty funny. We got a drink one place then went somewhere else to eat. Over dinner, Austin brought up the topic of his girlfriend. I'd been thinking about it but I also didn't care. I know where the boundary is and that makes things easy for me. Even if I'm super crushed out on a guy with a girlfriend, I've never had a problem restraining myself. I did find myself acting a little odd--I wanted to just relax and listen to someone else talk, but instead I did a lot of talking, per usual. Austin and I had a lot of surprising things in common--our parents had married, divorced, and remarried. We both spent some formative years in the same mid-sized southern city, and we are the same age (within months). He seemed particularly happy about the age thing and he's probably right that it put us in a comfort zone--having the same frame of reference is helpful. Still, we're also really different--he's from the south and his family is WASP-y with a lot of career military men (his father and both grandfathers). They are hardly the intellectual, Jewish strivers that make up most of my ancestors. That's not good or bad, but it's not the same frame of reference.

Anyway, when he brought up his girlfriend, I could tell something was up. He's not particularly happy with her. He asked me if he was a coward for not breaking up with her (short answer: yes). And I could see he wanted something from me. Not to cheat on her with me but maybe to get some kind of reassurance that she wasn't his last chance? Or maybe I'm the back up plan? It made me uncomfortable. I've been weighing this in my mind...and while I like him, I think he may be bad news for me. I would so like a buddy to hang out with. It would be great if that buddy were a boyfriend, but just a close friend who I could spend more time with, and talk to would be so great. Austin could be that if he didn't have another agenda. Maybe...well...I hope I'm wrong, but when am I ever wrong? I didn't want to write this because I don't want to be right, but I also decided I needed to be honest--with you and myself. So, my plan is to do nothing, to initiate nothing. If he gets in touch, maybe I'll see him again, but I'm not going to make any decisions right now.

Grateful for: honesty.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Where is the dating?

Given the ups and downs of life, real and blog, I'm going to try again to revive my writing. In the past, the blog helped when I was feeling dissatisfied and I'm going to put it to that use again. I will see if I can find a nugget of hopefulness in there somehow. That's my gimmick and I'm sticking to it!

So, today is better than yesterday. I'm not sad, just a little tired. I felt foolish, and I still do a bit, but I will try and learn my lesson yet again. Nancy was one of the people I texted and she wrote to me again today asking if I'd figured out why I get so emotionally drawn in by these bad news situations. I wish I had an answer for that but I assured her I was no longer in pain. She responded, "...pain is the worst thing ever." I don't agree with her. Pain is bad. It's unpleasant, but it's necessary. How do you know what joy is, what pleasure is, if you never feel pain? I suggested that pain has a lesson and I need to learn what it is. In this instance, the lesson is that something about this particular guy triggers something unhealthy in me and I will never engage with him again. I get it. He probably isn't a bad person (I hope not), but he is bad news for me and I'm staying away from him.

Because Nancy and I don't talk the way we used to, she doesn't know how much calmer I generally am when it comes to "stupid boys." You don't know either, because most of my dating is invisible on the blog. I am much better at handling situations where the expectations are clear from the beginning. I don't get worked up and I only sometimes struggle a bit with how long to wait to get in touch with someone--or whether not to get in touch at all. I get frustrated and I have expressed that all too often. I don't quite understand why I don't have a boyfriend and haven't had one for years. I am older and fatter and maybe the answer is as simple as that. But older and fatter people do seem to have relationships and I am still funny, smart, pretty, etc. A catch, in fact! I have been dating people that I meet online almost exclusively for the last few years. I simply haven't met anyone in real life who asked me out--or who I liked enough to ask out. I have been thinking about this and looking over the long list of failed dates over the last few years. I haven't tracked how many guys asked me out a second time who I rejected, but it was many. Usually, if I wanted to go out with the guy again, he was willing. I'm screening them out fast and furious. I'm also not getting out enough. I'm not in places where it's even possible to meet men. I go to my knitting group almost every week and I really enjoy it--but it's all women. It won't stop me from going but I need to expand my activities. I go on the bike rides with my friends, but it's a small group. I'm going on a group ride with different folks this weekend, but it's another (by design) all-woman group. Shoot, I can't remember the last time I just went to the local bar for a drink. Maybe something as simple as that would be a good thing to do. It's like I'm out of practice being in public and interacting with strangers. Is it a skill that you can lose?

I've been thinking a lot about starting to go salsa dancing again. There is a place near my office that has salsa dancing on Tuesday nights. I keep meaning to go but even contemplating the logistics exhausts me and going alone seems daunting. I used to have a friend I went salsa dancing with, but she's long gone. I do feel like something is a bit "off" right now. Maybe it's been that way for a while. I'm far removed from the misery of my old job, which I think has helped. At least I'm going out on all those dates! But my attitude is still wonky and I wish I were happier in general. I'm not entirely satisfied with the new job but it's manageable.

I'll keep thinking on this and try and figure out how to push myself a little more but in the right way--a way that will also be comfortable for me.

Grateful for: friends who help me consider different perspectives.